Securing high quality raw materials, such as premium barley, is crucial to making our products. This is why we work with farmers to understand the long-term challenges of growing barley in New Zealand. One of those farmers is Tim Gorton, a third generation farmer from the Manawatu whose family has been supplying malting barley for the brewing industry for over 20 years. He and his family operate a mixed crop farm that produces a significant amount of barley during spring.

Tim’s farming practice is centered on the idea of only using what you need and replacing what you have used, or as he says, “what we take out, we put back in.” Mixed crop farming has significant benefits from this perspective, as grazing stock help fertilise the soil that is later used for barley crops. The farm also adopts direct drilling practices, where seeds are sown directly into the soil, instead of traditional cultivation methods and techniques. Traditional cultivation leads to greater soil disturbance, loss of moisture, and release of carbon dioxide. It also involves driving over paddocks 3-4 times more than you would with a direct drilling approach. Direct drilling helps protect soil structure, keeps worms alive, and emits less carbon dioxide.

The farm has a strong focus on minimising the amount of nitrogen in the soil. Through soil testing, Tim can determine the amount of nitrogen in the soil already, which means the farm only uses what’s needed. The team has also undertaken riparian planting and fencing along its waterways to maintain good water quality.

Tim is also looking ahead as the Manawatu region has been experiencing warmer, drier weather in recent years. Drier summers may require investment in irrigation systems similar to those used in the Canterbury region.

Like many of our suppliers, by working with them over time we better understand our interdependencies and the emerging issues. Through this approach we are aiming to create a sustainable value chain.